Former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre was named the London Press Clubâ€™s first ever â€œjournalist laureateâ€� at its annual ball last night, at which the Fleet Street titan used his speech to take a swipe at the BBC.
He said the public-funded corporation “still plunders our journalism while missing no opportunity to denigrate the press and, by implication, our millions of viewers”.
Dacre donated his Â£5,000 cash prize to the Journalistsâ€™ Charity, for whom the ball raises money, and said he would use the gift of a â€œmagnificent penâ€� to write his autobiography.
â€œIt’s a running joke of course that I’m utterly useless at computers,â€� he said. â€œSo I plan to use it to write my autobiography â€“ it’s working title, by the way, is a Dish Best Eaten Cold.â€�
Dacre, 69,Â stepped down as Daily Mail editor this summer and is now chairman and editor-in-chief of Mail publisher Associated Newspapers.
At the ball, held at London’s V&A Museum, Dacre said he was â€œdelightedâ€� to receive the award of â€œjournalist laureateâ€�, telling guests: â€œIf only my old dad could see me now â€“ a real life laureate.â€�
Dacre jokingly named Ed Miliband, Jeremy Corbyn and Max Moseley in his speech, saying: â€œI can only hope that all these saintly individuals now see me in a new light and will give me the respect and affection I deserve.â€�
He said his father, Peter, who worked most of his life at the Sunday Express, was chairman of the Press Club between 1975 and 1976, while Dacre himself was in Washington working for the Express.
â€œIn those days computers were an exotic technology and no-one had heard of the internet,” he said.
“It seems almost remarkable that back then journalism tools included carbon paper, scissors and glue, while in the print rooms and newspaper offices molten lead glistened in buckets…
â€œWell today Mail Online, a total digital operation, is the world’s biggest newspaper website.
“So, yes, much water has flown through the river Fleet since those days â€“ and print journalism has had to cross many perilous bridges.
â€œBut make no mistake, this is still a great industry that still punches way above its weight and still sets the news agenda for a BBC that still plunders our journalism while missing no opportunity to denigrate the press and, by implication, our millions of viewers.
â€œWell tonight, I salute you Fleet Street.
â€œYes Fleet Street is going through a challenging time at the moment, but I promise mankind’s need for information… is as old as time itself.
“And authentic, as opposed to fake news, that obeys the law, that is self-regulating and is produced by brilliant, creative minds will survive and flourish.
â€œBut also as old as time itself is the compulsion for the rich and powerful to control the free press, as we have seen so worryingly in Britain over the past few years as politicians â€“ particularly in the second chamber â€“ try to impose statutory regulation on newspapers.
â€œAnd we should also remember, as we learn of the Saudi journalist [Jamal Khashoggi] reportedly tortured and murdered, that our colleagues in other countries die for our trade.
â€œAs [Lord] Northcliffe said the power of the press is great, the power to suppress is even greater.
“For my part… I have had a fabulously privileged life in journalism. Thank you again for this magnificent London Press Club award. I can’t tell you how proud I am to receive it.â€�
The London Press Club Journalist Laureate award is for â€œexcellence and leadership in journalismâ€�. It will now be made annually at the London Press Club Ball.
Source: Digital Journalism